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Proteus Anguinus | Human Fish | Olm

Updated on August 8, 2012

Proteus Anguinus or Human Fish

Proteus anguinus or in simple terminology Human Fish is a unique kind of a sightless amphibian that is mainly found in the profound waters in Dinaric Karst in the southern region of Europe. Proteus anguinus in fact lives in the profound waters that may surge underground all through this extensive limestone region including waters of Soca River. This sightless amphibian is also measured to be the single species in genus Proteus and the solitary European genre of the realm Proteidae.

Characteristics of Proteus Anguinus

At the same time, it is commonly referred to as the “human fish” by native population owing to its skin colour. This amphibian is extremely distinctive in the sense that its alteration to survival of complete obscurity in it dissident surroundings. It should be kept in mind that this amphibian’s eyes are totally immature and therefore, making it sightless. Whilst, on the other hand, same genus like smell and hearing are extremely good when evaluated with Proteus anguinus. It does not include any kind of colouration as well and the overall covering is extremely apparent devoid of any shade or scars. When compared with other amphibians, it is completely aquatic and it usually sleeps feeds and drinks under the water.

proteus anguinus life
proteus anguinus life

Proteus Anguinus - Human Fish - Olm


Proteus anguinus embryonic growth typically takes 140-150 days and it might take another 15 years so as to arrive at total sexual age. The larvae attain grown-up appearance after roughly 4 months, with the duration of total maturity strongly associated with water temperature. Unproven sequential studies of vivipary do exist, but it has been depicted that females tend to have an unusual gland that makes the egg casing, similar to those of egg-hatching amphibians and other fishes. It was speculated that female Proteus anguinus gives birth to young Proteus anguinus at lower temperatures and gives eggs at higher temperature, but scrupulous studies have not confirmed that.

proteus anguinus
proteus anguinus

The olm have a propensity to be oviparous. The female Olm actually gives up to 75 eggs, roughly about 13 millimetres in breadth, and places them between rocks where the hatched eggs stay under Olms reinforcement. The resulting tadpoles are approximately 2 centimetres in length when they occur and feed on egg yolk stored in the body for at least a month. Overall growth of the Proteus anguinus and former troglobite amphibians is categorized by heterochrony – the amphibian does not feel metamorphosis and relatively has larval characteristics. The overall appearance of heterochrony in this amphibian is said to be neoteny – delayed somatic maturity with exceptional reproductive ripeness, i.e. reproductive growth is obtained whilst preserving the larval tangential morphology.


The cavern salamander or Proteus anguinus is an astonishing amphibian that has a very strange look, developed at least million of years of nourishment in total gloomy cavernous caves in the central region of Europe. The peripheral of Human Fish does not include pigmentation and therefore it has a pale and translucent appearance. Proteus anguinus also have a cherry shade due to its blood capillaries which are there around the skoin and as its clarity signifies the curves of the internal organs.

proteus anguinus postojna cave
proteus anguinus postojna cave

This peculiar plump casing led to this uncommon species usually called as human fish, as individuals measured that this strange amphibian appeared like a minute human. This cave abode amphibian's four limbs are little and subtle, and its eyes are very unconvincingly grown like totally blind. Its skull is extended with a circular nose, and on the skull there are three exceptional pink gill clumps that are used for respiration, although adults have bigger lungs also. Male cave Olm’s are smaller in size when evaluated with females, and can be noticeable from females all through reproduction stage by their larger cloaca. As per the Slovenian periodical issued before from the Proteus and though, dates back to early 19th century.

Want to know more about Proteus Anguinus?

proteus anguinus map
proteus anguinus map

You can visit our website about Human Fish, where you will find almost everything about Human fish or Proteus Anguinus: history, anatomy, life and development, where it lives etc.

Why a Proteus Anguinus is Called a Human Fish?

A Proteus Anguinus is a long snake-like amphibian that is often called a human fish. The reason for this is because the proteus anguinus has a skin covering that is white and similar in color to that of a Caucasian. Another similarity in the skin of a human fish and a human is that the human fish produces melanin just as a human does. Melanin is produced in the skin when the skin is exposed to sunlight. The production of melanin is what makes suntanned skin. This is true for the human fish as well. Another similarity between the human fish and the human is the life expectancy. The life expectancy of a human fish is about 58 years. They live a long life because they live in caves and therefore their predators cannot reach them. If you have never seen a picture of a proteus anguinus, you should locate pictures on the Internet as they are truly amazing.

Postojna Cave Vivarium

What do you think about Proteus Anguinus? Have you ever seen it?

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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      @TopToysForKids: YES

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      @anonymous: still Kian Seng. I post this at 11:16 pm NOT AM!!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Olms are troglobite and goes through neotony.

    • Jan 1980 profile image

      Jan 1980 

      6 years ago

      very interesting creature,i never seen it before ,

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 

      6 years ago from Colorado

      Quite the interesting species. Thank you for teaching me about Proteus Anguinus. Always appreciate learning something new.

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 

      7 years ago

      I've only just met this "Human Fish" on your lens, thanks! :)

    • TopToysForKids profile image


      7 years ago

      Interesting fish. Does it actually have gills? I've seen blind trout in caverns but nothing like this.

    • juditpaton profile image

      Iudit Gherghiteanu 

      7 years ago from Ozun

      very interesting to learn about this fish, i never stop being amazed how much i can find out from Squidoo lenses.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      our pride

    • klopcic profile image


      7 years ago

      Yes, it is an unique animal ever!

    • CruiseReady profile image


      7 years ago from East Central Florida

      He looks a little creepy...

    • imolaK profile image


      7 years ago

      I've never heared about this animal. Thank you for sharing this interesting lens with us. Blessed!

    • viscri8 profile image


      7 years ago

      I have never seen the Proteus Anguinus -- but then again, there are so many things I have not yet seen! Good to know about it now -- I like fish and I like the humans. Keep well!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      A fascinating animal! I love to hear stories about the unusual in nature!

    • MyCrazyAdventures profile image


      7 years ago from Albuquerque, NM

      Interesting informative lens. This lens blessed by a Squid Angel.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      They are unique and amazing creatures. I hope they won't get extinct.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      The planet is full of amazing creatures, hope it flourishes and does not get extinct.

    • JanezKranjski profile image


      7 years ago

      This creature is as unique as cave they are living in.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I think the Proteus Anguinus is a fascinating little creature, I have never heard of the human fish before and you certainly have introduced it well here!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Yes, I saw it in Postojna Cawes.


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